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Title: Sartorial spectres : re-fashioning the past in the neo-Victorian novel
Author: Dove, Danielle M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8504 4116
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis is about nineteenth-century dress and the ways in which it is reimagined and re-embodied in the present. It traces the imaginative extensions of Victorian women’s clothing in contemporary historical fiction, and foregrounds the sartorial as a fundamental tool for accessing and re-thinking the neo-Victorian genre’s relationship with the past. This thesis considers how representations of dress contribute to our contemporary understanding of and interest in the Victorian period and examines the extent to which dress retains its connection with the body (or bodies) that it once adorned. This thesis interrogates how material forms of dress manifest themselves through tropes of immateriality, of haunting and spectrality, and argues that fictional renderings of dress permit modern-day readers a way of accessing past bodies that are no longer extant. These engagements with the fictional fashions of the past allow for a process of re-materialising and re-embodying the otherwise-ghostly presence of the Victorian body in ways that, I suggest, highlight the genre’s nostalgic necrophilic impulse. It is my contention that a focus on dress and materiality in the neo-Victorian novel functions as a form of necrophilic impulse that is mediated through sensual engagements with fabric and items of dress that function as forms of synecdoche for the desired Victorian body.
Supervisor: Pulham, Patricia ; Palmer, Beth Sponsor: University of Surrey
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral